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Plot 12A Raised beds


By balcony


A couple of weeks I got some wood for the raised beds I want to make on my allotment. My daughter called me to ask me if I still wanted the wood from some crates that had arrived at the factory during the night but which had now been emptied but the wood had to be picked up the same day as the management didn’t want it on site during the weekend because it was a potential fire hazard. I told her that indeed I still wanted it & then I phoned Gerry & we arranged a time to go & pick it up in his trailer.

Wood for raised beds:

We went & picked it up at the agreed time & took it down to the allotment. Once there we decided to stack it in the area of the compost heap that I had been clearing out. A space that is becoming very useful of late as a place to dump bags of horse & chicken manure while I get on with preparing the ground. Fortunately I’d already used half the bags Gerry brought me down a couple of weeks ago so it was quite quick to remove the remaining bags & put them closer to the last bed that needs digging up before I can incorporate the manure into the soil.

Boards for raised beds laid out

As most of the beds have been dug up & the manure incorporated I now just have to make up the wooden frames to go around them. The planks are quite thick & the wood is very hard & heavy. The planks are about 2,5cm thick with varying lengths but most about 1,5m long & about 20cm or so wide.

For the moment at least the beds will be built just one plank width high, though ideally I’d like them to be twice or three times that height. My daughter says there is a great demand for these crates, so much so that the management has a waiting list of people who want them! It seems they don’t get them now as frequently as they used to. Unusually it seems 3 crates arrived therefore they were able to save two for me! I’m happy to have two at least so I can make a good start on the raised beds before the planting season gets underway!

Raised bed #1 Before the boards were put in place

Raised bed #1 After the boards were put in place:

I’ve taken some photos of the boards laid out on the ground alongside the beds. I’ve now set them in place & held them up for now with thin,white tubes the previous tenant used for marking out his sowings/plantings.

I’m adding some of the photos I took yesterday so you can see how I’m getting on. As the weather has been freezing or raining these last few days I’ve spent very little time on the allotment.

Raised bed #2 Before the boards were put in place

Raised bed #2 After the boards were put in place

On Monday Gerry & I got some more bags of soil conditioner. I will spread some over the beds I’ve finished digging to try to keep the weeds down & hopefully warm up the soil earlier as it’s black & will therefore retain some of the heat it acquires during the day.

Raised bed #3 Before the boards were put in place

Raised bed #3 After the boards were put in place

Last Monday (23rd January) Gerry took some of the short, thick pieces of wood from the crates home to cut up to make some stakes for me. It would be impossible to cut them with a hand saw on the allotment. They really needed to be cut with a power saw & as I don’t have one I asked Gerry if he had one. He said he had & offered to cut them for me.

Numbering of plots

Today, Saturday, I put some plastic milk bottles with numbers on them on canes to identify what the beds will be used for. Originally I had intended to number them from the compost heap, which is at the very beginning of my plot, but as I started to clear & manure them from the far end I decided today to start my numbering system from that end.

The early potatoes I will put in bed #1 at the far end of my plot:

Seed potatoes ‘Rocket’ chitting in the greenhouse:

Well that’s the latest instalment for the moment on my own allotment. Shortly I will be making another on Gerry’s allotments where I continue to help him. There’s not a lot at the moment to show but over the coming weeks things will start changing once again as the growing season makes a start. Everything of course depends on the weather we have during the coming weeks.

Happy gardening!

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Everything looks great on Plot Number 12 A.

Well done Balcony and Gerry ...
you've made great use of the recycled boards :o)

29 Jan, 2012


well worth all the effort & the produce will speak for itself Balcony. Took me a while to get my raised beds constructed & filled before planting but Im getting so much from them now plus the ease of maintenance is less back breaking. Win Win !! Enjoyed the sequence of photo's.

29 Jan, 2012


Looking great there, got some seed potatoes yesterday : )

29 Jan, 2012


Get some Picasso seed potatoes Balcony. They produce huge tubers, very rewarding to grow, but dont keep after January. I had 2 weighing 2.5 lbs each. Lovely flavour.

You are doing jolly well working with the wet soil.

30 Jan, 2012


Lots of work there, but it will all become easier after your hard work. Good Luck with it all! :o)

30 Jan, 2012


@TT: Thank you for your comment & we have indeed made good use of the boards. Need a few more yet so will have to break down some pallets, but they are terribly difficult to break up, it takes quite a while to break them down.

@Bampy: It does take a while & the extra depth will also be a great advantage as there are places where the soil is not even one complete spit deep! All the manure I've put in has helped to bulk up the soil as well but once it is incorporated into the soil it will subside quite a bit. I'll probably spread the compost on top of the beds but I'd rather wait till I get the wooden stakes in that Gerry is making for me. Then I can nail the planks in place & it will make for a much stronger framework. At present the thin, white tubes are only there to hold up the planks till I can put the stakes in. So there is still some work to here yet.

@Stevie: Thanks, what potatoes did you get? Have you put them out to chit yet?

@ Diane: Is Picasso a main crop potato? Your spuds were HUGE! I got a few that came in at exactly 1lb each & I thought they were big!!! Were their hearts OK? Sometimes such big potatoes tend to make a hollow in the very centre of the tuber. To make such big potatoes they must need a very long growing season & lots of manure in the soil as well!

The soil tends to dry out quite quickly which can be a blessing or a curse - depending on how you look at it! It's terribly sticky. We have a sand & gravel subsoil as the field it seems was once upon a time a gravel pit till it became uneconomical & closed. I've been told they brought the land extracted from the widening of the A1 to fill in the pit & then they put a little topsoil over it & rented the land out for allotments. It can't be used for house building because of the nature of the land. Though that doesn't stop it from being converted into a cemetery! A few years ago the council changed the land use from allotments to cemetery use. Somebody asked how much time did we have left before half the remaining field is wanted for burial use & we were told we had 10 years before our land would be needed for burial sites! My half allotment is on the side that is earmarked for the extension of the cemetery! ;-(( Gerry's is on the other side so his is safe for another 20+ years!

@Nariz: Thanks for your good wishes! :-)) Yes, it is a lot of hard work but should give some good crops later in the year. All these beds have had horse manure dug in a spit's depth down. In places this means the manure is sitting between the soil & subsoil as in some places the soil is not even one spit deep!

30 Jan, 2012


I got a bag of early charlottes, like those with/in a salad and for some spring summer potatoe salad. They are out to chit now (see last but 1 pic on last blog). Will put those in in say 3 weeks times or after the cold spells and will then chit my bag of king edwards for the main crop. Have quite fertile soil on the veg patch and a slop getting more moisture towards the bottom so can stagger for a long period, well thats the aim : )

30 Jan, 2012


It's all go at 12a isn't it? Great job Balcony! I made my raised beds with railway sleepers but of course, they are a bit pricey, unlike your recycled crates! Well 'cadged'!

30 Jan, 2012


Thanks for that, Stevie. Hope your Charlottes do well for you. I've got 'Rocket' for my earlies. Haven't thought about what to put in for maincrop yet.

Hi Karen, yes, you are right, it is all go! If I had a garden of my own I might want to have railway sleepers but not on the allotment. As you rightfully say they are expensive & being unemployed I can't afford to spend much money. I had been waiting about 5 or 6 months for these crates & I count myself very fortunate to have been able to get hold of two crates at the same time. :-))They are much sought after my daughter tells me! Demand for them always exceeds supply!

31 Jan, 2012

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